Denton County Confederate Memorial
The Denton County Confederate Memorial, located on the south side of the former courthouse building, was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1918 to honor the Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. Located on Hickory Street, the monument depicts a soldier standing atop a stone arch. Calls to remove the memorial began in 2000 as local resident Willie Hudspeth and other African Americans raised awareness of the intent of the monument. An influential organization in the American South in the early 1900s, the United Daughters of the Confederacy were dedicated to vindication of the antebellum South and many members published books and articles that presented slavery as a benign institution that benefitted African Americans.
Backstory and Context
The intent of the UDC can be seen in the way that members petitioned school leaders to alter their curriculum in ways that glorified the Confederacy and minimized the evils of slavery. For example, a Texas chapter of the UDC worked to make sure that the following U. D. C. Catechism for Children was recited in schools throughout the state. Other UDC chapters around the nation followed suit and generations of white Southern children recited the following selections of the UDC catechism as part of a call-and-response exercise in public schools:
- Q: What causes led to the war between the States, from 1861 to 1865?
- A; The disregard, on the part of States of the North, for the rights of the Southern or slave-holding States.
- Q: How was this shown?
- A: By the passage of laws in the Nothern States annulling the rights of the people of the South—rights that were given to them by the Constitution of the United States.
- Q: What were these rights?
- A: The rights to regulate their own affairs and to hold slaves as property.
- Q: How were the slaves treated?
- A: With great kindness and care in nearly all cases, a cruel master being rare
In 2018, after a long period of public debate, especially in the context of other Confederate monuments and statues that had been removed in other parts of the South, the Denton County Commissioners Court decided to keep the memorial where it is but add signage to offer historical context. It was recommended that a plaque denouncing slavery and racial superiority be placed below the statue and that an interactive kiosk be installed nearby. As May 2019, it is unclear whether these have been installed yet.
Amy L. Heyse, Teachers of the Lost Cause: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Rhetoric of Their Catechisms. PhD Diss., University of Maryland, 2006, 262–269.
"Our Confederate Soldiers." The Historical Marker Database. Accessed May 20, 2019. https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=108519.
Smith, Mark. "Denton County to Keep Confederate monument." The Cross Timbers Gazette. February 8, 2018. https://www.crosstimbersgazette.com/2018/02/08/denton-county-to-keep-Confederate-monument.